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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Arkansas State University


State University, Arkansas

Project Name

East Arkansas Regional Innovation System



Award Amount

$500,000 for East Arkansas Regional Innovation System

Arkansas State University will utilize i6 funds and match funds to leverage local, state, and federal partnerships and funding to create and launch the East Arkansas Regional Innovation System (EARIS). This is a collaborative regional partnership ignited to meet two identified local needs of the region: (1) coordinate and streamline existing support services and resources for entrepreneurs and inventors via the Proof of Concept Center (POCC) Regional Innovation Hub, and (2) foster opportunity in rural east Arkansas communities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Led by the A-State Delta Center for Economic Development, this system will produce increased job creation and retention, dollars leveraged and invested, business start-ups and entrepreneurs supported, and commercialized products within one of the poorest and underserved regions in the United States, East Arkansas. Below average high school graduation rates (57%), very low post high school education rates (12.2% 4 year degree), and high poverty rates (30% persistent poverty rates) with very little opportunity to advance are notable characteristics of the region.

EARIS is a regional system of coordinated spaces, services, and resources that begin at the Proof of Concept Center where ideas are generated and measured for feasibility; extend out to three distinct commercialization centers/processes where ideas are actualized and scaled for market; entrepreneurs and inventors are supported by resources already successful through an improved streamlined process; and results produced are increased job growth and retention, businesses and entrepreneurs supported, dollars leveraged and invested, and products developed and taken to market.

The City of Jonesboro was targeted as the hub site for EARIS for two reasons: (1) Jonesboro has the assets, support service partners, and infrastructure in place necessary to successfully implement a regional innovation system; and (2) There is an identified need to connect rural Arkansas to innovation and entrepreneurship by maximizing regional resources that currently exist in Jonesboro.